Forres GP Practices

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Mental Health and Psychological Support


What is counselling?

Counselling is a talking therapy that involves a trained therapist listening to you and helping you find ways to deal with emotional issues; this could be person-centred counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or others such as psychodynamic psychotherapy.

What can counselling help with?

Counselling can help you cope with:

  • a mental health condition, such as depressionanxiety or an eating disorder
  • an upsetting physical health condition, such as infertility
  • a difficult life event, such as a bereavement, a relationship breakdown or work-related stress
  • difficult emotions – for example, low self-esteem or anger
  • other issues, such as sexual identity

What to expect from counselling

At your appointment, you’ll be encouraged to talk about your feelings and emotions with a therapist, who’ll listen and support you without judging or criticising.

The therapist can help you gain a better understanding of your feelings and thought processes, and find your own solutions to problems but they will not usually give advice or tell you what to do.

You may be offered a single session of counselling, a short course of sessions over a few weeks or months. It can take a number of sessions before you start to see progress, but you should gradually start to feel better with the help and support of your therapist. Be aware that counselling can be ‘hard work’ for patients and can uncover difficult thoughts and emotions. This may be part of the therapeutic process and discussing these feelings with your counsellor is important.

Can you get free counselling on the NHS?

You can get free psychological therapies, including counselling for depression, on the NHS.

You can self-refer directly to the Moray Primary Care Psychological Therapies (MPCPT) service

Private counselling

If you decide to pay to see a private therapist, make sure they’re qualified and you feel comfortable with them.

The cost of private counselling can vary depending on where you live, with a session costing anywhere between £10 and £70.

Many private therapists offer lower rates for students, job seekers and those on low wages. Many therapists will also offer an initial appointment, often at low or no cost, to discuss whether or not they will be able to help you. This can also be an opportunity to see if they are someone that you think you will be comfortable to work with.

You should ask about charges and agree on a price before starting a course of counselling.

You can access a list of counsellors available in Scotland on the COSCA website –

Some larger employers can also provide access to counsellors though their company’s occupational health service.

Charities and voluntary organisations

Some charities and voluntary organisations also offer counselling – see the link below.

These organisations usually specialise in a particular area, such as couples counselling, bereavement or family guidance.

You do not need a referral from a GP for an appointment for these services, but you may have to pay a fee to cover the cost of your sessions.

You may also be able to access support groups through your local community, church or social services.

Finding a qualified therapist

As counselling involves talking about sensitive issues and revealing personal thoughts and feelings, your counsellor should be experienced and professionally qualified.

Reputable therapists will be registered with a professional organisation that’s been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). This means they have met the PSA’s required professional standards to practise.

You can find a qualified therapist in 3 simple steps on the PSA website (

Other talking therapies

As well as counselling, there are many other types of psychological therapies (or talking therapies) that involve talking to a therapist about your feelings or problems.

This may be one-to-one, in a group, online, over the phone, with your family, or with your partner.

The therapist helps you find answers to the problems you’re having.

For some problems and conditions, one type of talking therapy may be better than another.

Different talking therapies also suit different people.

  • CBT – the aim of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is to help you explore and change how you think about your life, and free yourself from unhelpful patterns of behaviour.  You set goals with your therapist and may carry out tasks between sessions. See Mental Health Resources document link below
  • NHS Scotland also have a text-based CBT platform – more info here:

What other support is available?

There are a variety of resources and support available, ranging from self-help Apps to 1:1 individual support.

You can also self-refer to the Moray Primary Care Psychological Therapies Service by telephoning 01343 553109 or emailing [email protected] where an opt-in form will be provided.

The attached guide gives details of some of these which have been collated by Forres GP Practices – this does not encompass everything which is available but is a list of recognised resources which GPs will often signpost patients to and which they may find helpful.